In the world created by author J.K. Rowling, September 1 is the annual first school day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as the Sorting Hat places new students into their proper houses and Harry Potter and the gang find new mischief to get themselves into. For myself and my wife, it seemed like the perfect date to return to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure to not only visit Hogwarts, but also get an update on the current crowd levels around the popular theme park addition.
But with lesser crowds comes shorter park hours. Yesterday and throughout this week, Islands of Adventure closes at 8 p.m., allowing guests to spend only short time inside the beautiful Wizarding World at night. Beginning next week, the park closes at 7 p.m. followed by closings as early as 6 p.m. on weekdays for the final two weeks of September. While the shops inside the Wizarding World do remain open past closing (Universal isn’t one to turn down money), guests must be inside the park before park hours end for the day, making casual after-work visits to the Wizarding World nearly impossible for locals in the coming weeks.
But I’ll gladly trade shorter park hours and smaller crowds for the elbow-to-elbow madness that has consumed the Wizarding World throughout the months since its grand opening.
Here’s a glimpse of the comfortable crowd levels that can now be found throughout the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (along with a few other fun shots):
While large crowds indicate that a theme park is doing well, it’s always nice when those crowds thin out, enabling visits to be much more enjoyable. Yesterday’s short trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was one I had been longing for since its June 18 grand opening. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey had a posted wait time of just 20 minutes, but upon walking through the queue, it was more like 5-10. As with any other Orlando area theme park, now is the best time to take in all the detail found within the Wizarding World, before the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas seasons draw new large crowds.
Photo slideshow from yesterday’s visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter: